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Galapagos Trip Planner
Most travelers are particularly concerned about what to bring on their trip. Here’s where you really benefit from our years of adventure travel experience. We asked our customers from past trips to Ecuador about the gear and clothing they carried with them. They told us what worked, what didn’t and what they wished they had. Some of the information detailed below was taken from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism’s database and also from some very knowledgeable, useful and reliable trip handbooks. Travel Handbook; When to go; FAQ's Galapagos; Enchanted Islands; Galapagos Information.
- Handbook Part 1
- Handbook Part 2
- When to Go
- Enchanted Islands
- The Galapagos Islands
- Travel Documents
- Ecuador Vacation Budget
- Transportation in Ecuador
- Ecuadorian Taxes
The Galapagos Islands: Ecuador's fourth distinct region is the Galapagos Islands ("Archipielago de Colón"), on the equator 600 miles offshore, which are like a world of their own. Like the Hawaiian Islands, they were created by volcanic activity that continues to create new islands to the east of the present group of 60. Most volcanic cones on the islands are extinct, but there was a significant eruption on Isla Isabela in September 1988. Fernandina, Isabela, Baltra, James, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal are the mayor islands in the group. Spanish bishop Fray Tomasde Berlanga named the islands "Galapagos" - tortoise- in 1535. Naturalist Charles Darwin's 1835 visit on the H.M.S. Beagle, during which he saw how unique flora and fauna had developed here, had a significant impact on his development of the theory of evolution. About 20,000 people live on a few of the large islands today, with many smaller islands uninhabited and reserved for nature study in what is now and Ecuadorian national park. In the Galapagos Islands, temperatures are comfortably mild thorough the year. From December through June, high temperatures are in the mid-to-upper 80´s. This is the rainier season, though there is still quite a bit of sunshine-in the desert climate of the Galapagos the amount of rainfall is miniscule compared to the Amazon rainforest! From July through November, high temperatures are in the upper 70´s to low 80´s. During this part of the year, Humboldt Current cools the ocean water to about 68 degrees and the mist called garua often occurs in the higher terrain. (See FAQ's about GPS)
Visas, Passports, and Tickets All travelers must have a passport valid for at least six months before arriving in Ecuador. They must also have a return ticket to their country of origin or to another destination. Starting on June 20th 2008, citizens from any nationality can enter Ecuador without visa. To enter the country, visitors must fill in an international embarkation/disembarkation form. It is important to keep it with your passport. Travelers should have their passports with them during their stay in Ecuador to avoid problems with the authorities who may want to see it. Those who wish to stay in the country longer than 90 days have to fill out the corresponding paperwork in an Ecuadorian Consulate. If the traveler enters Ecuador as a tourist it is not possible to change his/her status while they are in the country.
Ecuador Vacation Budget In general terms, Ecuador is one of the cheapest countries in Latin America. Here you’ll find good quality food, lodging and transport at low costs compared with other countries of the region.
Daily Budget You can survive in Ecuador with: Low-budget: from USD 30.00 Mid-budget: from USD 50.00 to USD 100.00 High-budget: from USD 150.00 and upwards.
Food BudgetYou can get a good meal in a good restaurant for an average price between USD 5.00 to USD 7.00. Still you can find good quality meals for lower prices but then you may sacrifice comfort. Nevertheless you may find some places where you can get a complete meal between USD 3.00 to USD 5.00. Of course, there is the luxury stile, fancy restaurants may charge USD 15.00 and upwards for a meal.
Lodging BudgetThere is a great variety of hotels and hostels in the Country which means that there is a great variety of prices too. You can find surprisingly clean and comfortable places for a range of prices between the USD 8.00 and USD 20.00; however, price may be a good warranty at the moment of choosing a place with all the necessary services. Most of the good hotels are between USD 40.00 to USD 70.00; better facilities and comfort at these places is assured. You will find also top-end hotels from USD 80.00 and upwards.
Transportation BudgetMaybe transport is the cheapest service in Ecuador. A bus ride will cost USD 0.25 and a taxi ride will cost from USD 1.45 at morning and USD 1.75 at night
Transportation in Ecuador
Getting around Ecuador and its cities is pretty easy, however, you should know some tips for traveling in a fast and safe way.
Urban Buses You may get anywhere in a big city by just taking a bus. It’s a really cheap service (USD 0.25) and there are a lot of “only seated” units. Buses begin to circulate early in the morning (06 a.m.) but they do not stay in the streets too late (9 p.m.). Even though it’s a popular way of moving around, it has some negative aspects. Bus drivers, not always respect the bus stops and sometimes they stop anywhere. There are many new buses, and there are another many that aren’t so new which means comfort is not always guaranteed.
Trolebus & Ecovía & Metrobus It’s the most modern and efficient urban transport in the country. Big articulate buses run through exclusive ways and still bus stops. The service is cheap (USD 0.25) and it runs along the city from one side to the other. You can use also the integrated bus service (units that work exclusively for the trole, ecovía and the metrobus). Buses are new and the bus stops are well distributed in the city. You may be a little bit tight in the rush hours. This service exists only in Quito from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Taxis Cabs are also a very popular way to move around in big cities. In a general way, the service is good, cars are new and drivers are pleased to help tourists. The cost depends on the taximeter, but an average ride will be between USD 1.50 to USD 2.00. At night will be hard to find a taxi driver using the taximeter so the will not charge less than USD 2.00 (even though it’s illegal).
If you come from or go to the airport, apply other rates that the new airport is outside the city of Quito, a distance of 40 km. (Rates vary and are classified by areas therefore depends on the direction and the area)
These are the rates to hotel tourist areas:
Airport to Old town USD 23.00 and Old Town to Airport USD 26.00
Airport to Carolina Park USD 21.00 and Carolina Park to Airport USD 24.50
Airport to La Floresta USD 20.00 and La Floresta to Airport USD 22.00
It’s safer to use a radio taxi at night; these units work with radios and you must call them from a telephone. The cab will be there in no more than 5 minutes with no extra charge. Taxis work 24 hours a day.
Buses for provinces The easiest and cheapest way to travel inside Ecuador is in a bus. You may get anywhere in the Country just by taking one or two buses. Costs may vary due to distance and the quality of service. There are some express buses which mean that they would not stop in any town until you get to your destination. Many transport companies have new units, with bathroom, TV and comfortable chairs. Some even serve some snacks during your travel.
If you want to take one of these buses, you should locate the ground terminals in each city. There you will find a huge offer of companies for any destination in the Country.
Some transportation companies have their own ground terminal…frequency of the trips are wide and they work 24 hours a day.
Airplanes Ecuador has one of the best domestic air transportation system in the region. Twelve cities have their airports and are served by local air companies. Costs vary depending in distance and service. The longest flight inside Ecuador may take 45 minutes, with the exception of the Galapagos Islands which may take like an hour and a half.
Good quality restaurants and hotels will add a 14% tax to your bill, and another 10% for service charge.
As for international departure air taxes, this cannot be included in your airline ticket price because you are required to pay them directly. All taxes are subject to change without notice and have to be paid in cash in US dollars
Handbook part 1
- Get Ready to Go
- Packing for your Trip
Tipping The amounts of your tips are optional for your trip. However, here are some guidelines for tipping the people who help make your trip enjoyable, based on what past travelers have done. It is customary to express a personal “thank you” to your Company’s trip leader (the person who organizes your trip and takes care of all your request and needs), especially if he/she has provide you with individual assistance. We recommend USD5.00 per person / per day. During your tour, you have the opportunity to participate in included tours (land programs). A tip to your local guide and motor coach driver is customary. Here are the following suggested amounts. Motor coach driver: USD 2.00 per person for each full day tour Local guide: USD 5.00 per person for each full day tour At the Galapagos Islands guides and crewmembers are highly remunerated, but it is customary to give a common tip that will be divided equally among guide and crewmembers. It is normally around USD 5.00 to USD 10.00 per person/per day. Again; all the amounts you give are strictly your own decision and therefore confidential..
Safety Tips for Travelers in Ecuador
As you travel in Ecuador, exercise the same caution and awareness that you would in a large American city. You should read a few tips listed below that will keep you sane and safe while you travel through Ecuador.
Safety in Ecuador
Ecuador is considered one of the safer countries in the Andean Region, however, it is always a good idea to be cautious during your visit. Ecuador's urban centers, especially Quito and Guayaquil, are generally more dangerous than the countryside. The best way to prevent crime is using your common sense and reduces the likelihood of being a crime victim by following a few basic precautions:
Safety in the City
Travel with trustworthy companions.
Find out where the unsafe sectors are and avoid them. Find out which are the best hours to visit tourist sites.
Keep all important documents in a secure place, such as an inner pocket or a pouch that is hidden under a layer of clothing.
Make copies of your important documents, such as passport, travel ticket and card numbers. Leave originals in a safe box in your hotel. Keep always a copy of your passport with you
Carry travelers checks and credit cards instead of large sums of cash.
Carry a one day supply of cash in your pocket. Replenish your pocket supply when you are in a safe and quite place, or in our vehicle.
Walk confidently with your head up. Never stare at the ground, it makes you look nervous and weak.
When you feel unsafe listen to your instincts. If you get that feeling grab a taxi or go into a place with lots of people.
Be wary of people who are too friendly too quickly, or that offer to show you around. Use your judgement.
Pickpockets may create a sudden distraction. In any sort of puzzling street situation, try to keep one hand on your money belt. Be especially careful at airports and train stations, where you may be easily distracted.
If an encounter with a local turns out to be long and complicated and involves money or your valuables, be very careful. Con artists sometimes target travelers.
Don't wear expensive jewelry or wristwatches. They make you a target.
Your cameras are also valuable, take them inside your bag or keep them out of sight.
Keep an eye on your carry shoulder-bags and purses. Take them in front of you in crowded places.
Keep all bags and other valuables where you can see them in restaurants, ground terminals, and other public places.
Change your currency in a bank or in your hotel. Don’t do it in the street
If you rent a car, park it in parking lots, don’t leave valuable objects in the car.
Don’t take hitchhikers.
Safety Outside the of City
Watch out for the security terms in National Parks. Use the paths.
Before getting into the sea, ask if there is any dangerous zone. Ask about the tides. If you feel that a strong current is taking you apart from the shore, swim in parallel in relation to the coast until you reach the shore. Maintain calm.
Special recommendations Avoid traveling by yourself if you plan to visit the Ecuadorian northern border (limit with Colombia). We recommend using a travel agency’s service. At this moment subversive groups operate in Colombia, a few miles from the Ecuadorian border. Even though there hasn’t been known any cases of assaults lately, it’s better to prevent.
Emergency photocopies The smartest and easiest security precaution you can take is to carry photocopies of the personal information pages of your passport, your air ticket, your traveler’s checks serial numbers, and your credit cards. Add the phone and fax numbers for reporting lost credit cards, and for your travel insurance company and medical emergency network (if you have taken insurance). Store the copies in your duffle bag, separate from the originals.
This can save you immeasurable time, money, and hassle if your documents are lost or stolen during your trip
Get Ready To Go
We suggest that you have a medical checkup before your trip. This is a must if you have any medical condition or physical limitation. Let your doctor know about any medical condition you have, particularly cardiac or respiratory disease or diabetes, and discuss the details of your itinerary as it pertains to your health.
Make sure to bring an ample supply of any prescription medications you take regularly.
When you visit your doctor, get a prescription for an antibiotic medication for gastrointestinal illness. One suggested medication is Ciprofloxicin, but consult your doctor for a good medication for you.
Quito is at high elevation. If you are prone to altitude sickness or have not been to high altitudes, we recommend a prescription for Diamox (Acetazolamide), a medication approved for treatment of altitude sickness. (Diamox shifts the acidity of your blood in a way that encourages somewhat deeper and more frequent respiration.) For most people, the only noticeable side effects are a mild increase in urination and a slight tingling in the fingers.
Consult with your doctor about the use, dosage, and inadvisability for Diamox (e.g. sulfa allergy).
A loose filling or developing cavity would be difficult to remedy in a remote area in South America. You may want to have a dental exam before your trip.
Get Fit For Adventure
The minimum physical demands of your trip are not highly rigorous for a person in good physical fitness. But if you choose all the walks and excursions available, you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet. We walk over fairly rough trails, and climb many high stone steps. You’ll get the most enjoyment out of your trip if you are comfortable walking unassisted for tow or three hours each day.
We encourage you to exercise regularly in the weeks before your trip. Try to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes, three days each week. Also, go walking as much as you can. Start slowly, and build up to longer walks. If you can go hiking on trails, it will build your agility and help you prepare for walking on uneven surfaces.
You might even want to go jogging, or use a stair machine or exercise bike at a health club. You don’t need to be super-fit to enjoy yourself in Ecuador. But many travelers tell us that they wished they had exercised more before their trip. If you have not been active, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can fell stronger when you start to exercise, and you’ll be delightfully surprised with your new found stamina on the trip.
Health in Ecuador
If you are planning a trip to Ecuador you should take some considerations on your health care. Our country's geography and climate, in certain cases may influence in the appearance of some ills. Also you should be precautious, specially in tropical areas, from diseases transmitted by insects. Last but not least, you need to be particularly cautious with respect to what you eat and drink because in some places food isn't always prepared with the best conditions of cleanness.
Weather and Altitude Sickness
Ecuador's weather is characterized for being very variable. In some places you can experience, in a single day, strong changes in temperature. This very common in the Andean region, where you can enjoy sunny mornings and electric storms followed by strong rains in the afternoon. High factor sunscreen, sunglasses and also warm clothes are recommended. In the Andean region you should be also cautious of altitude sickness. Ecuador is home to some of the highest volcanoes and mountain peaks in the world. Someone flying from New York City to Quito, for example, experiences an elevation change of nearly two miles in a little more than 6 hours. Abrupt changes in elevation such as this sometimes have ill effects on travelers. Altitude sickness usually manifests itself in insomnia, headaches, and/or nausea. To prevent altitude sickness, or to at least stave off some of its effects, ascend gradually to provide your body with time to adjust to the change. Obviously, if you are flying into Quito this will be impossible; the first thing you have to do is to avoid extreme physical efforts for the first two or three days. (Ex: running, lifting heavy objects, practicing sports) In the event that you do experience symptoms of altitude sickness, in most cases, they can be remedied by drinking lots of water, getting lots of rest, and taking aspirin.
No vaccine is required to enter Ecuador, but is good to know that in certain areas of the country, (tropical areas) exist the presence of insects that may transmit illness. The most common illness founded in tropical areas are malaria and yellow fever.
On account of Ecuador's diverse geography, there is risk for Malaria in some parts of the country and not in others. Mosquitoes, the primary carriers of malaria, do not like heights. As a result, travelers run little risk of getting Malaria while in the mountains and mountain valleys of Ecuador's High Sierra Region. On the other hand, because mosquitoes thrive in the Ecuador's hot and humid Coastal region and the Amazon jungle lowlands, you must take the appropriate precautions while traveling in these regions. Travelers can eliminate much of the Malarial risk by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting themselves against mosquito bites. You can protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent (the repellent must contain DEET), always wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and sleeping beneath mosquito nets.
Yellow Fever is a very rare cause of illness for travelers, but, if you plan on spending time in the rainforest or coastal lowlands, you should get immunized. Like Malaria, Yellow Fever is a disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Likewise, you should follow the same precautions as with Malaria. Employ insect repellent, protective clothing, and mosquito netting to minimize the risk of bites from infected mosquitoes.
One of the most common problems for travelers are the effects of food and water. This may occur because of two reasons. First, food may not be prepared hygienically (food vendors, popular markets, restaurants that may not seem clean) and second, the foreign immune systems are not accustomed to some bacteria or parasites present in food. (fruits, ice, tap water). The symptoms appear as relatively mild stomach and intestinal tract problems (diarrhea and occasionally vomiting).While in Ecuador, eat only well cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself, do not eat un-pasteurized dairy products, refrain from eating food sold by street vendors, eat only in restaurants that seem clean, and avoid ice in drinks. Drinking tap water is not advisable anywhere in Ecuador, so drink only bottled or boiled water. In case of a long trip to a place where you can't buy bottled water, you should buy water-purifier pills. Water-purifiers can be found in most camping/outdoor supply stores.
You can find hundred of pharmacies in urban zones. Usually, in the big cities they are open in regular business hours, and you can find many of them open 24-hours a day. Some others (usually in residential neighborhoods) operate on a rotation system - look out for an illuminated "Turno" sign outside. It’s very common to find a doctor in each pharmacy, and they are pretty reliable for recommending a medicine or place injections. But in case of a serious illness or symptom is better to find a specialist.
Good medical care is available in Quito, Guayaquil, and most of the big cities. There is a lack of hospital infrastructure in small towns but you will find health centers that provide first aids. In Quito, Guayaquil and most of the province's capital cities you will find well trained and specialized doctors, many of them bilingual. Some embassies have lists of excellent multi-lingual doctors.
Packing For Your Trip
Keep Your Bag Light
You are restricted to 44 pounds on flights within Ecuador. In any case, you’ll be better off if you can tote your bags yourself for short distances. Choose clothing with multiple uses. Find toiletries in sample size. Remove all disposable material from your gear before you leave home. And leave some room for souvenirs!...every little bit helps!
What to pack really depends on where you are going and your style of travel: budget backpacking, luxury island-cruising, a two-week guided historical tour, or a combination of all three. Every type of travel has its own list of bare essentials, so we list some of the obvious and not-so-obvious items for the various regions and activities you may encounter in Ecuador.
Day pack or small backpack. Keeps your hands free and is the most comfortable bag to walk with. Use it for your water bottle, camera gear, sunscreen, etc. Look for a bag with several small zippered pockets. Store camera gear and important papers in plastic bags to protect them from dirt and moisture.
Large duffel bag or soft-sided luggage. All of your clothing and gear must fit in one duffel or piece of checked luggage. Look for heavy nylon fabric, wrap-around handles and a heavy-duty lockable zipper. You can now buy a duffel bag with built-in wheels, from Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and elsewhere.
Small duffle bag. Fold this into your large bag. Due to limited storage space at the Galapagos Islands, we stow your large duffel in our hotels in Quito, and you carry enough gear for the nights you will be out of town.
Inner bags. You can use plastic shopping bags, nylon stuff sacks or smaller zipper duffels to separate clothing and gear inside your duffel. Isolate liquid toiletries in heavy-duty Zip-Loc bags. Bring a few spare bags, including one for dirty laundry.
Packing Your Carry-On-Bag
Use your day pack /small backpack as you carry-on bag for your flights. In it pack camera gear, all medications and other irreplaceable or breakable items like prescription glasses or contact lenses.
General Packing List
Passport; travelers checks; medical prescriptions or health supplies; Swiss army knife; cloths for warm and cool weather as one can encounter both in an afternoon in the Andes or if traveling between regions; raincoat; backpack; money belt or neck pouch; watch with alarm clock; flashlight or headlamp; plastic bags for separating dirty and clean clothes and shoes; needle and thread; biodegradable soap (if in backcountry areas); notebooks and pens/pencils; hat; and sunglasses.
Ecuador's electrical current is 110 volts 60 cycles, the same as North America, so adapters for North American equipment are not needed. However, plug converters are necessary in older buildings.
Regional Packing List
In most parts of the Andes, you can experience all four seasons in one day. Be prepared for cold nights and cold rain, especially if you plan on camping. Warm, fast drying clothes are recommended (synthetics and wool are good, but avoid cotton, especially directly against the skin). Good hiking boots that either dry quickly or are water-resistant are a must for most activities. For trekking through páramo, rubber boots work exceptionally well, even with a full pack. The general packing list plus these items will serve you well in the Andes.
Sun hat; sun glasses; sandals (for the boat); sneakers (for dry landings and rocky shores); teva-style sandals (for wet landings); swim suit; umbrella (for sun protection during island hikes); high factor, waterproof sunscreen; snorkel and mask (you can rent them in Quito or in Puerto Ayora); beach towel and bath towel; wind resistant jacket; light sweater or sweatshirt (nights can get rather cool and you don't want to miss stargazing on deck); twice as much film as you think you will need; extra camera batteries; underwater camera; and motion sickness pills.
All of the Galapagos equipment minus all that may be rented if you plan on doing a lot of hiking or travel by bus. Travelling light is always recommended. You'll also need insect repellent (at least 30% DEET) and possibly a mosquito net (most hotels provide them). Malaria pills may also be necessary, read about the disease and how to prevent it in our health page.
Rubber boots (a must since hiking boots don't work well in calf-deep mud - most lodges and arranged tours will provide boots up to size 10 or they can be purchased in most towns for about USD 5); mosquito net (most hotels and tour companies offer nets); insect repellent (with DEET); malaria pills; antihistamine tablets and an epi-pen for people with serious allergies to stings; water purification tablets (iodine is recommended); oral rehydration packets; binoculars (invaluable in the rainforest); plastic bags for keeping your clothes dry; swimming suit; lightweight quick drying clothes; at least one long-sleeved shirt; one pair of loose-fitting pants (no jeans); a light sweater (it gets surprisingly chilly in the rainforest, especially on boat trips); poncho that fits over you and your pack (the cheap plastic knee-length type coats are better than goretex, which will soak right through in a real rainforest deluge); bandana; a pair of clean socks for each day; Teva-like sandals or sneakers for around camp; and zip lock bags for food, books, maps and anything else you hope to keep dry.
All clothes (undergarments included) should be loose fitting to help keep you cool and to reduce your chances of being bitten by insects.
Handbook part 2
When to Go Galapagos
Ave. Air Temperature
|Jan||30 ºC||86 ºF||22 ºC||71.6 ºF|
|Feb||30 ºC||86 ºF||24 ºC||75.2 ºF|
|Mar||31 ºC||87.8 ºF||24 ºC||75.2 ºF|
|Apr||31 ºC||87.8 ºF||24 ºC||75.2 ºF|
|May||28 ºC||82.4 ºF||22 ºC||71.6 ºF|
|Jun||26 ºC||78.8 ºF||21 ºC||69.8 ºF|
|Jul||26 ºC||78.8 ºF||20 ºC||68 ºF|
|Aug||26 ºC||78.8 ºF||19 ºC||66.2 ºF|
|Sep||26 ºC||78.8 ºF||19 ºC||66.2 ºF|
|Oct||26 ºC||78.8 ºF||20 ºC||68 ºF|
|Nov||26 ºC||78.8 ºF||21 ºC||69.8 ºF|
|Dec||27 ºC||80.6 ºF||22 ºC||71.6 ºF|
Ave. Sky and Sea Conditions
|Months||Hours Clear Sky||Ave. Sea Temp|
Wind Factor; Sea Factor; Rainfall inch
|Months||Wind Factor||Sea Factor||Rainfall inch|
|1:||Without any inconvenience|
When to go Galapagos
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
The climate in the Galapagos islands, though under the equator, cooled by the Humboldt current, and is characterized by two main seasons: (1) the warm, wet season (January to April), and (2) the cool, dry season (May to December). December to May is the best season for visiting the islands when the weather is pleasantly warm and the winds are light.
The rainy season, which lasts from January to April, is marked by decreased winds and warmer sea currents. The days are warm and the seas are calm during these months. Heavy rains in the upper elevations send streams of water down the slopes to even the lowest island points.
From June to November the weather is overcast and cool. The water around the islands is surprisingly cold and the meeting of the Humboldt current and the warm air sometimes causes mist over the islands. Occasionally the Humboldt current is replaced by the warm El Niño current, a phenomenon which can affect weather conditions throughout the South Pacific.
From May to December, when the winds blow in a southeasterly direction, the shores of the southern islands are bathed in cool waters, chilling the air and creating unusually cold conditions for equatorial islands. During this period, rain is scarce on the coastal regions. Only plants that can survive long periods of time without water -- such as lichens and cacti -- thrive in these areas. Higher up, however, clouds of moisture support the thick vegetation.
CALENDAR OF MAIN EVENTS AT THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ALL YEAR ROUND
- Beginning of the rainy season.
- Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain.
- On Española the adult male marine iguanas become brightly colored.
- The green sea turtle arrives to the beaches of Galapagos to lay their eggs.
- Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles on Isabela.
- Both, water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June.
- Ideal time for snorkeling.
- On Floreana flamingos start nesting.
- Bahamas pintails start their breeding season.
- Masked boobies, on Española are the end of their nesting season.
- Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz.
- The highest water temperature reaches 25ºC (77ºF). This temperature remains until April.
- Very few penguins are sighted in Bartholomew.
- The nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak.
- The rainy season reaches the highest precipitation.
- Sporadic tropical rains, intense sun and hot climate. Air temperature can reach up to 30ºC (86ºF).
- Marine iguanas nest in Fernandinas.
- March 21, the beginning of the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española.
- Massive arrival of waved albatross to Española. Their courtship starts.
- End of hatching season of the giant tortoises.
- The eggs of the green sea turtles begin to hatch.
- Land iguana hatch on Isabela.
- North Seymour's blue footed boobies begin their courtship.
- Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant and Puerto Egas.
- Most of the marine iguanas eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz.
- Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage.
- Albatross on Española start laying their eggs.
- Band- rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period.
- Beginning of the garúa season.
- Giant tortoises on Sta. Cruz migrate from the highlands to the lowlands in search of suitable nesting places.
- Beginning of the nesting season of giant tortoises.
- Sea bird communities are very active, especially the blue footed boobies on Española.
- Flightless cormorants court and nest on Fernandina.
- It is possible to find oyster catches nesting on Puerto Egas.
- Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November.
- Whales are more likely to be observed, especially off the Western coast of Isabela.
- The Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago.
- Mask boobies and swallow tailed gulls nest on Genovesa.
- The temperature of the ocean descends to 18ºC (64ºF) which obviously varies according to the geographic zones among the islands.
- Migrant shore birds start to arrive, and stay on the islands until March.
- Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz.
- The peak of the cold (garúa) season.
- The air temperature reaches its lowest (19ºC) (66ºF).
- Penguins demonstrate remarkable activity on Bartolomé until December.
- Sea lions are very active, especially in the western and central areas of the Archipelago.
- Most species of the marine birds remain active at their nesting sites.
- Lava herons nest until March.
- The Galapagos fur seals begin their mating period.
- Boobies raise their chicks on Española.
- Giant tortoises still lay their eggs.
- Sea lions pups are born.
- Sea lionc are sexually active on the Eastern part of the Archipielago.
- Breeding season of brown noddies.
- Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period.
- Hatching of the giant tortoise's eggs begins and lasts until April.
- Green sea turtles display their mating behavior.
- The rainy season begins, all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves.
Galapagos "turns green".
- The first young albatross fledge.
Due to changes in the strength and the limits of the ocean currents the can affect the weather in Galapagos, some of the events described above may differ or fail.
When to go Galapagos
FAQ's about the Galapagos
1. When is the best time to go to the Galapagos?
2. Which rules to follow on Galapagos concerning nature protection?
3. How far in advance should I book?
4. How do I get there?
5. Does the guide accompany us on each island?
6. What is the difference between the 4 night/5 day and 7 night/8 day tours?
7. What is a typical day of sightseeing like on a Galapagos cruise?
8. What are the accommodations like?
9. What are the meals like?
10. What type of aircraft is used in the Galapagos Islands?
11. How common are wildlife sightings in the Galapagos?
12. Are the Galapagos boats equipped with snorkeling equipment?
13. Can I scuba dive from the boat?
14. Do you cruise between islands in the daytime or at night?
15. How physically fit do you have to be to enjoy a Galapagos trip?
16. Are these trips suitable for children?
17. Are the boats equipped with life vests?
18. What if I have a medical emergency on the cruise ship?
19. Can I extend my stay?
20. How much should I budget for a trip to the Galapagos Island beyond the tour fee and international airfare?
21. Why is the National Park Service fee so expensive?
22. Is seasickness common?
23. Are there luggage limits on domestic flights or on the boats?
24. How are the cruise ships equipped for electricity?
25. What phone service is there on the cruise ships?
26. Do the cruise ships have smoking policies?
1. When is the best time to go to the Galapagos? [ Top ]
The answer depends on what you are most interested in seeing. Times of year when birds mate, nest, migrate, etc. vary by species so if you're particularly interested in observing birds, it's best to research and plan your tour accordingly. The same may be said for any of the other animal species. Our staff has traveled to the Galapagos almost every time of year. From our experience, any time is a good time to visit the Galapagos.
2. Which rules to follow on Galapagos concerning nature protection? [ Top ]
The beauty of nature of Galapagos can only be preserved if the visitors follow these 12 rules, which have been drawn up by the administration of the National Park.
1. Do not touch any animals
2. Do not feed the animals - it will disturb them in their natural comportment
3. Do not scare away nesting birds
4. Do not take away animals, plants or parts of them as a souvenir
5. Do not buy souvenirs consisting in parts of animals or plants
6. Do not bring any animals or plants from the mainland - otherwise the Islands' ecosystem could be destroyed
7. Do not bring any food to the Islands
8. Throwing away litter is not allowed
9. Do not write or carve your name in trees or rocks
10. Follow the instructions of your guide
11. You are not allowed to leave the marked trails
12. Point out the rules of the National Park to inattentive visitors
3. How far in advance should I book? [ Top ] Due to demand, Galapagos yachts historically have been reserved well in advance, particularly for the high seasons. Although shorter timetables are feasible, it is normal and recommended that you book your trip 3-6 months prior to your intended date of departure, and 6-12 months prior to the holiday seasons.
4. How do I get there? [ Top ] Passengers fly into Quito or Guayaquil and then on to the Galapagos to begin their cruise. Flights from the mainland fly into one of two Galapagos airports, either on Baltra Island or San Cristobal Island. The Baltra Airport is near the main town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island reached via ferry and bus. After arrival formalities, passengers are usually shuttled immediately to their vessel. Those flying into San Cristobal take a short five minute bus trip to the harbor to begin their Galapagos cruise.
5. Does the guide accompany us on each island? [ Top ]
Yes. By law, all Galapagos cruises are guided by a National Park Service-certified guide. On Galapagos cruises, the guide holds an information meeting each evening in the lounge area to discuss the itinerary for the next day. During this meeting he/she will describe the flora and fauna that passengers may observe on the island. Questions concerning biological, geological and human history are always welcome. The guide accompanies the group on all shore excursions. On land-based tours are also guided. Galapagos guides are licensed by the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora and most have a university degree in biology, or related discipline.
There are 3 levels of naturalist guide, although you are most like to come across II and III who are allowed to guide up to 16 people. All must pass various courses applied by the Galapagos National Park authorities. The basic differences according to the regulations are not entirely clear in places.
Level III: Ecuadorians or foreigners with work permits, academic title in biology, tourism or related subject, speak Spanish, English, French or German, & pass Natural Guide course 2.
Level II: Ecuadorians, secondary or intermediate university studies in biology, tourism or related subject, speak English, French or German, & pass Natural Guide course 3.
Level I: Residents of the area, high school diploma, Basic English, have wide knowledge of the zone & pass Natural Guide course 1.
6. What is the difference between the 4 night/5 day and 7 night/8 day tours? [ Top ] Longer tours visit more islands. Since at least part of the first and last day of the tour will be spent in Quito and getting to the Galapagos Islands, the shorter tours also spend less time sailing around the islands.
7. What is a typical day of sightseeing like on a Galapagos cruise? [ Top ] The vessels anchor offshore at two visitor sites or islands per day. Passengers are ferried to the landing point in an small flat-bottomed boat called a panga, that is designed to land on beaches. The landings are either wet (where one must step into ankle to knee-deep water and wade to shore) or dry (where one steps from the panga directly on to a solid landing surface). The guide and panga driver assist passengers with a steady hand at all landings. On the islands, one follows marked trails established by the National Park Service, walking at a leisurely pace as the guides interpret and explain the unusual sights. Three to four hours is usually spent at each site, allowing plenty of time to explore and photograph the abundant wildlife. There are opportunities to swim and snorkel daily.
8. What are the accommodations like? [ Top ] Those traveling on a tourist superior cruise stay at a comfortable three star hotel. First class cruises stay at a four star hotel. Luxury cruises and cruise ships stay at a five star hotel. We personally inspect the rooms and amenities of all potential hotels and lodges in each tour location and select only those that meet our rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort, convenient location, safety, customer service and ambiance.
9. What are the meals like? [ Top ] Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily in the dining room during the sailing portion of the tour are nutritious and plentiful. The menu generally includes a variety of seafood, fish, beef, fresh salads and soups as well as dessert and hot drinks. On land-based tours meals generally include a variety of seafood, fish, beef, fresh salads and soups as well as dessert and hot drinks. For dinners, our land-based passengers are on their own to explore the local restaurants. Our guide recommends the best restaurants on each island. In general, the food served at the Galapagos is superb and you have a huge selection dishes to choose from in case you are vegetarian, don’t eat red meat, don’t like a certain type of cereal, etc.
10. What type of aircraft is used in the Galapagos Islands? [ Top ] Domestic carriers use Boeing 737s to fly to the islands from mainland Ecuador. These planes accommodate 150 - 350 people.
11. How common are wildlife sightings in the Galapagos? [ Top ] The Galapagos Islands are teeming with wildlife, offering many opportunities to see animals up close in the wild. Sixty-three percent of the species breed exclusively in this archipelago, and the lack of predation has fostered an environment where they are not afraid of humans.
12. Are the Galapagos boats equipped with snorkeling equipment? [ Top ] Yes. The Galapagos is a paradise for snorkelers. Boats have masks, snorkel tubes and swim fins that you'll be able to rent and pay for directly on board. Since a mask and snorkel tube do not take up much room or weigh much, you may choose to bring your own for added comfort and familiarity.
13. Can I scuba dive from the boat? [ Top ] As for your wish of diving at the islands, the Galapagos National Park sent a resolution a few months ago where all live aboard diving activities are forbidden until new order; I’m afraid we cannot offer it until this get a legal solution. Perhaps, you would be interested on staying one or two extra days after your cruise, stay in a nice hotel in Puerto Ayora and from there organize daily diving sessions.
14. Do you cruise between islands in the daytime or at night? [ Top ] The days are normally spent anchored at one of the islands. Although there are times when you will sail short distances between islands during the day, longer distances are cruised at night to maximize daytime explorations and wildlife observations.
15. How physically fit do you have to be to enjoy a Galapagos trip? [ Top ] Passengers able to walk a few hours a day unassisted will be able to fully enjoy the Galapagos Islands. Some of the excursions require more physical activity than others, involving short steep climbs or long walks in hot weather. However, most excursions require moderate activity. To enter and exit the dinghies, one must be reasonably fit, sure-footed and in good health. Passengers who are concerned about their ability to do any particular day hike can discuss the situation in advance with on-board the naturalist beforehand.
16. Are these trips suitable for children? [ Top ] Children with an interest in nature usually thoroughly enjoy a trip to the Galapagos, but bored or misbehaving children can at worst be the bane of a boat and, on smaller yachts, cause serious tensions with other passengers. Child restrictions depend on the boat, as also the facilities for looking after children. Although the Park recommends that children be over 7 years, there is no prohibition and mothers could even bring babies in their arms on land visits. Large cruise ships are better equipped for children, and may have nurseries and child-minders so that parents can make land visits and leave their children onboard. Smaller yachts generally have no facilities, and some will not allow young children below 5-7 years. Those that do accept younger children usually make it clear that the parents have full responsibility to accompany and look after the child/children throughout the cruise, and require the signing of a waiver. Chartering a yacht has the advantage of enabling dedicated care to be organized.
17. Are the boats equipped with life vests? [ Top ] Cabins are equipped with a life preserver for each passenger. Comfortable lightweight life vests are provided for panga excursions.
18. What if I have a medical emergency on the ship? [ Top ] All boats are equipped with a basic first aid kit for minor ailments, however most boats cannot handle serious medical conditions. Passengers are advised to obtain medical or travel insurance that covers medical evacuation.
19. Can I extend my stay? [ Top ] Yes. We offer an array of trip extensions both in the Galapagos Islands and too many interesting destinations on mainland Ecuador to suit the individual needs and interests of our passengers. If you would like to discuss the options or arrange a trip extension on either end of your trip, please contact us.
20. How much should I budget for a trip to the Galapagos Island beyond the tour fee and international airfare? [ Top ]
Transit Control Card: USD 20.00 per person
Park Entrance Fee: Adults USD 100.00 / Children under 12 yrs USD 50.00
Meals/beverages not included on cruise packages USD 100.00
Meals/beverages not included on land-based tours USD 20.00 – USD 25.00 per day
Tips, depending on activities and length of trip USD 60.00 – USD 150.00
On most of the Galapagos cruises, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and bottled water are provided free of charge. There is a bar on board, with juice and soft drinks, wine, beer and a basic selection of liquor where passengers may run a tab until the end of the cruise. Beer and alcoholic beverages range from USD 2.00 to USD 3.00, a bottle of wine is USD 15.00 to USD 20.00, and soft drinks/juices from USD 1.00 to USD 2.00.
Cash as well as Visa, MasterCard and Amex are accepted on most boats; however, some boats only accept Traveler's Checks and/or US dollars.
21. Why is the National Park Service fee so expensive? [ Top ] The Galapagos Islands are part of the Ecuador National Park system and a USD 100.00 per adult and USD 50.00 per child entrance fee is charged. The fee must be paid in cash upon entry at the airport. The fee helps protect and preserve the Galapagos Islands, supporting park staff, educational programs and ongoing conservation efforts. Preserving the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands is a worldwide endeavor.
22. Is seasickness common? [ Top ] Due to ocean currents, there will be moderate movement of the Galapagos vessels while navigating. We recommend that passengers who are prone to motion sickness consult their doctor to obtain some type of preventative medication suited to their individual needs.
23. Are there luggage limits on domestic flights or on the boats? [ Top ] For the flights to the Galapagos, the airline allows one checked suitcase (44 pounds) and one carry-on bag per person. If your luggage exceeds the limit, you can pay an excess baggage fee at the counter. The less you pack, the more carefree your trip will be. It's best to pack your clothes in two bags, one with warmer and city clothes that can be left in your hotel in Quito, and a separate bag for your Galapagos gear.
24. How is the cruise ships equipped for electricity? [ Top ] There are 220 & 110-Volt electrical outlets on most boats. Passengers should contact our staff to double check what electricity voltage a particular boat has. Some boats have hair dryers for guest use, but most do not.
25. What phone service is there on the cruise ships? [ Top ] Cell phone coverage is very limited in the Galapagos. All of the cruises carry radios for emergencies, and some are equipped with satellite phones.
26. Do the cruise ships have smoking policies? [ Top ] Smoking is prohibited in enclosed areas aboard all vessels and on the Islands. Smoking is only allowed on the outer decks in designated areas
Galapagos Islands Introduction
A trip to the Galapagos Island..
A trip to the Galapagos Island will be the journey of your lifetime. Located 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland, the archipelago consist of 13 major islands, of which 5 are inhabited. Find out more about the famous Islands by taking virtual trip with us!
The Island's interesting volcanic geology, as well as its rich flora and fauna have been admired and studied by numerous travelers, scientist, and nature-lovers. Scientist are still faced with a mystery how such a large diversity of species could develop in a remote location like the Galapagos Islands. On the Islands, a multitude of animals, by most people only known from the Discovery Channel, are romping about: the main reason for tourists and nature lovers to pay the Galapagos Islands a visit.
Interested who first set foot on the Islands? Whether it was the Incas, refugees, pirates, or seafarer who were seized with a thirst for adventure? Find out about the human history of the Galapagos Islands! Talking of men on the Islands: One of the first to visit was no less a person than Charles Darwin, who was fascinated by the natural history of the archipelago. His five-week stay gave the impetus to the famous Theory of Evolution.
The Galapagos Islands are blessed with pleasant weather all year round, which means that there is no "better" time to visit those precious Islands. Still, you might take some factors like High Season vs. Low Season, or the climate into account. For yourself, your group, or your family: Check out when to go to the Galapagos Islands!
The Galapagos Islands won't leave you untouched. Travel with us and have the journey of your lifetime amidst playful seals, elegant albatrosses, fiery red Sally Light-foot Crabs, and sneaky Friate birds. Make your dream come true and contact us today!.
Galapagos islands information